Hearing About the Ex

I'm under no illusions about people who have left our community and who I no longer see. People who were friends of mine and aren't any longer. Or people who, as far as I know, are still friends but who I don't get together with anymore for whatever reason. Of course, that's the nature of illusions: you're not aware of them until they are pointed out. Like blind spots. You can't see them. Like deception. The nature of deception is that you are deceived.
So I read emails and facebook and through the grapevine find out how great they are doing in their new churches and how wonderful their new pastor is and how happy they are and I always feel sad. Obviously not for them. For me. I do have a jealous bone in my body you know. I'll be the first to admit it. I compare it to someone who's spouse has left and found a better man. She's so happy now. Well… I'm glad she's happy. Now please don't tell me any more about it because you're tearing my heart out! And I suppose the hundreds of people I've experienced separation from have the right to be happy and finally find what they've always been looking for. But it still hurts that I couldn't seem to satisfy them and that this community couldn't provide what they needed. True: I purposefully didn't supply some of their desires. And I couldn't give them what they wanted because I wouldn't. But that's a whoooooole other story.
Sometimes someone will say to me something like, "If only people understood what you are about, then they would love it and our church would grow!" I always try to balance their view: these people who left aren't stupid. They left precisely because they did understand what I was about and had major issues with it. I'm not silly enough to believe that if only more people knew about Rothesay Vineyard or me as a pastor or about nakedpastor.com, then there would be growth and success for me, my church and my blog. I'll never fall for that one. In fact, the opposite is true: many, many people know about Rothesay Vineyard and have forsaken her, about me as a pastor and are offended, and about nakedpastor and abhor it. My problem isn't that I need publicity. Publicity is my problem! But it's not really a problem because it isn't my goal to be famous.
Sometimes I wonder if there's a dual aspect to Rothesay Vineyard: one is a small core of consistently committed people who will sign with their blood that we are in this together, who believe in it and invest heavily in its welfare; then there is the other group of people who believe in it and love it and call this their church, but who's commitment is minimal, conditional, intermittent and sometimes even cautious. The thing is, you can never be absolutely sure who's in which group. Some who I thought were lifers are suddenly gone, and some I thought would be gone a long time ago persevere with us. Those who have patted me on the back and said I'm with you forever are the ones doing that to someone else now. Those who have struggled remain. Go figure! One of my tasks though, I feel, is to be sure they all receive the same unconditional and indiscriminate care.
I live a very strange life. Wouldn't you agree?

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